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Estimating Taxable Income Responses using Danish Tax Reforms

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  • Henrik Jacobsen Kleven

    (Department of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Esben Anton Schultz

    (Copenhagen Business School and CEBR)

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    Abstract

    This paper presents evidence on taxable income responses using administrative data that link tax return information to detailed socioeconomic information for the entire Danish population over 25 years. The identifying variation is provided by a series of tax reforms that create large tax variation across individuals, income forms, and over time. It is argued that the unique tax variation and data in Denmark makes it possible to control for the biases from non-tax changes in the income distribution and mean reversion that plague much of the existing literature. Our main findings are the following: (i ) Labor income elasticities are modest overall, around 0.05 for wage earners and 0.10 for self-employed individuals. (ii ) Capital income elasticities are about 2-3 times larger than labor income elasticities. (iii ) Behavioral elasticities are much larger when estimated from large tax reform episodes than for small tax reform episodes, consistent with idea that responses to small tax changes are attenuated by optimization frictions such as adjustment costs and inattention. (iv) Crosstax effects between labor and capital income–for example due to income shifting–are in general small. (v) All of our findings are extremely robust to specification (such as pre-reform income controls), suggesting that we have controlled in a sufficiently rich way for non-tax factors impacting on taxable income.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 2011-02.

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    Length: 39 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:11-02

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    References

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    1. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Bounds on Elasticities with Optimization Frictions: A Synthesis of Micro and Macro Evidence on Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 15616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2006. "The Evolution of Top Incomes in an Egalitarian Society: Sweden, 1903–2004," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 625, Stockholm School of Economics.
    3. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2003. "Tax Bases, Tax Rates and the Elasticity of Reported Income," NBER Working Papers 10044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
    5. Slemrod, Joel & Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2002. "The optimal elasticity of taxable income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 91-112, April.
    6. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2011. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Micro vs. Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 749-804.
    7. Blomquist, Sören & Selin, Håkan, 2008. "Hourly Wage Rate and Taxable Labor Income Responsiveness to Changes in Marginal Tax Rates," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2009:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    8. Slemrod, Joel, 1998. "Methodological Issues in Measuring and Interpreting Taxable Income Elasticities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 773-88, December.
    9. Giertz, Seth, 2007. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income over the 1980s and 1990s," MPRA Paper 18313, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Gelber, Alexander, 2010. "Taxation and the Earnings of Husbands and Wives," MPRA Paper 20345, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:
    1. Thor O. Thoresen & Trine E. Vattø, 2013. "Validation of structural labor supply model by the elasticity of taxable income," Discussion Papers 738, Research Department of Statistics Norway.

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